Anyone reading Elizabeth Matthews' excellent novel based around the real life ship 'HMS Resolute', which was abandoned in 1852 whilst trying to explore the infamous and elusive NW passage, might like to know that the desk currently used by the President of the United States in the Oval Office was made from her timbers. The ship was rescued by the Americans in 1955 but later broken up in 1879. Queen Victoria had the desk made and then presented it to President Hayes; it has been in the White House ever since.
The story however does not end there and one of Hollywood's latest movies, 'National Treasure' staring Nicholas Cage, features yet another piece of furniture, a writing desk, also made from the timbers of HMS Resolute, which was used by Queen Victoria on board the Royal Yacht. The writing desk in the film's plot was shown as being at Buckingham Palace, but in reality it's actually in the Naval Museum in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard.
To mark both the occasion of the Disney film and the launch of Elizabeth's book, the museum held various events on the 23rd February, including a talk by the author about the ship and a book signing using the very desk in question. (See pictures left)
Elizabeth is acknowledged as, 'the authority' on HMS Resolute and the fascinating truth behind the ship's colouful life.
"Elizabeth, an American writer, knows more about the history of HMS RESOLUTE, and the complicated political background which threatened war between Great Britain and the USA, than anyone else."
--Mr. Michael Phillips--
Leading British maritime and Naval Historian